SERIES BLOG: EARLY 19TH CENTURY FRANCE FASHION

They overthrew the monarchy during the French Revolution, 1789-1799, and elaborate court dresses disappeared from style. While I ruled France in 1804 as Emperor Napoleon, Romanticism returned to France. That does not mean that I abandoned revolutionary art for good.

early france fashion

WOMEN’S FASHION

Napoleon’s first empire in the late eighteenth century saw women wear dresses that mimicked ancient Greek styles. Empire line garments had low necklines, high waistlines, and short, puffy sleeves. The fabrics of dresses in the eighteenth- and nineteenth centuries had been thin, like muslin. During the 19th and 20th centuries, heavily durable textiles of linen and calico were in style. Trains were often attached to court dresses made of velvet, silk, or satin in the France fashion scene of the day.

CHANGING STYLES

Napoleon’s rule did not end until November 1814, when the monarchy reigned. In addition, women’s dress had changed too, and this tradition has survived till today. As soon as the waistline returned to its original position, the skirt flared like a bell. Long sleeves (see bottom left) became a signature feature. As modesty, low necklines often wear a scarf, known as a fichu or filled with another material.

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MENSWEAR FRENCHMEN

A century ago, French men admired the skills of London tailors and adopted English fashions. There were four key pieces of clothing: a tailcoat, a shirt, britches or pants, and waistcoats. An ordinary shirt typically had a high collar and a cravat or stock. Daytime wear replaced tailcoats with frock coats over time, and breechcloths gradually declined in popularity.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Some women wore a see-through cape called a cane over their dresses, beginning about 1830.
An overcoat called a Carrick, which had several flaps under the collar, became popular in this era.

TIMELINE

1804: Napoleon crowns himself emperor of France.
1813: Napoleon crowns himself emperor of France.

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MEDIEVAL MODES

At the turn of the century, the romantic movement was sweeping art, literature, and music. It was concerned not with the order of science and values but with human feelings, nature, and supernatural phenomena. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo, is one of many romantic novels set during the Middle Ages. As a result, some women wore mock medieval clothes. Renaissance fashions, such as slashed sleeves, became highly popular.

SUMMARY

You can change your appearance by using style, and you can also enhance your quality of life. It is the art of changing one’s appearance. So be the artist.

By: Ilma Imran

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